short story no. 56

Automat (1927) by Edward Hopper

It all started when the Grade 12 students of Southcoast all-boys school decided to run among themselves an online poll titled “Who Would You Rather Fuck”. Only two choices: Mrs. Wilfreda Piamonte — music teacher, the only female teaching in the Southcoast faculty because she was well past sixty years old and therefore deemed by the management committee to be unappealing now to the horde of rowdy and libidinous male adolescents the school housed — and her, Tricia Gatdula. She had won by only two votes.

“At least she won,” her classmates said, giggling.

The poll and its outcome had…


short story #55

“Old Man in Prayer” by Rembrandt

1

Father Peter died in April 2020, more than a month into the COVID-19 lockdown, but it was not because of COVID. Not directly. Personally I believe it was because he got so bored of the isolation we had imposed on him that he decided to just die, because the life he was living was not worth calling life anymore.

Of course, this was not the official reason.

On the evening of his final day, he came home from a regular checkup in the hospital. He was being pushed on his wheelchair into the house and he looked particularly tired: his…


short story #54

Sanza riposo mai era la tresca

de le misere mani, or quindi or quince

escotendo da sé l’arsura fresca.

Dante Alighieri, Inferno XIV, 40–42

From William Blake’s Illustrations to Dante’s Dive Comedy

He was trapped on the fourteenth floor of a burning building and now he wanted out. It had started as a tiny flame at first and then another one and he would stomp it out flame by flame and then get back to work on his desk and he thought he would be all okay and go on to live an ordinary functioning life like that. But then another flame would enkindle now here now there…


“Red Balloon” (1922) by Paul Klee

short story #53

“Listen,” the bar manager said. “Listen. Hey, are you sweating? You are. You’re sweating. Christ! You’re nervous, aren’t you? Kid, listen. I’m sorry but this clearly isn’t for you. I mean just look at yourself! You’re a mess! Let’s call it off while we still can. Jerry! Jerry! Get over here. We’re cancelling the first act.”

“Wait, stop,” she said. “Stop, sir. Please. You promised. One more chance, you said.”

“Well, I’ve changed my mind.”

“You can’t just do that, sir.”

“Kid, look, I can’t afford to take any more risks. You’ve bombed all nights since I hired you. No…


short story #52

Hotel Room (1931) by Edward Hopper

“Weave, weave the sunlight in your hair — ”

T.S. Eliot, La Figlia Che Piange

The elevator had to break down on a Sunday, just when it was my turn on duty at the reception desk, just when the rest of the apartment staff was out for the weekend. Mr. Sison arrived, as usual, early that morning — hair all disheveled, his office shirt crumpled and stained with God knows what, his necktie hanging languidly from his collar, all dusty and blotched. He could hardly walk straight, Mr. Sison. What a wreck. I watched him fumble with the keys at…


Stańczyk (1862) by Jan Matejko

short story #51

The clock ticked as Sam sat tensed on the couch of the rector’s office. The rector was on the adjacent seat, leaning back to give off a guise of relaxation, hands fixed together in a customary solemn amen, black soutane billowing softly over his huge soft figure. Sam had taken the couch pillow unconsciously and covered his body with it, grasping it to his stomach. …


“Not to Be Reproduced” (1937) by René Magritte

short story #50

There’s no denying it now. He stood half-naked in front of the bathroom mirror, turning his torso at different angles, squinting his eyes, catching the light from different points, tucking his belly in and out, out and in. With his thumb and forefinger he grabbed a soft, loose fold of flesh from the side and wiggled it grimly. He could not fool even himself.

Through gritted teeth he muttered, “Fat fuck.”

He did not shave nor shower. Instead, still half-naked, he went downstairs to the dining room.

His wife had left breakfast for him, the lone plate sitting at the…


“Still life with candle” (1937) by Pablo Picasso

short story #49

When I was in second grade, it occurred to our teacher how clever it would be to organize, in our classroom, an exhibit of dinosaurs made out of recycled materials. It would be very educational. It would remind the school body of the doomed fate of our own species if we did not recycle.

“Each of you make any dinosaur you want,” he said. “Out of the junk you find lying around your house.”

“What kind of materials, sir? Coke cans?” asked one classmate.

“Milk cartons?” asked another.

“How about yoghurt cups, sir?”

“Styrofoam?”

“Old wine bottles?”

“Alright, alright!” said…


“Le Grand Concert” (1955) by Nicolas de Staël

short story #48

I knew I was in a rush to get to the hospital. But I couldn’t just let them take me for an idiot. I rang them up, Big Dexter’s Pizza, and as soon as I hear the phone pick up and the bored whiny voice of some idle adolescent, my hand tightened around the receiver and I resolved firmly to give them a piece of my mind.

“Empty?” said the whiny voice. “What do you mean empty?”

“It means what you think it means you dumb chickenshit,” I said.

“Empty, eh?” he said. “You mean there was nothing inside, eh?”…


short story #47

Church in Auvers-sur-Oise (1890) by Victor Van Gogh

Huffing and sweating, the priest arrived at the parish office to see the old woman, the familiar veiled fixture in the pews of the parish, standing in front of the glass doors of the conference room with her arms folded and her face slightly raised in an expression of cold and holy triumph. Past the glass doors the priest recognized the frail figure of the boy, the acolyte who assisted in the Friday and Sunday evening masses, seated by himself on a monobloc chair behind a monobloc table, his hair disheveled, his head bowed to his chest.

Before she had…

Alvaro Adizon

Aspiring novelist. Frustrated theologian.

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